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LostInParadise's avatar

Is it grammatically correct to say, "Aren't I the right person?"?

Asked by LostInParadise (31830points) July 12th, 2022
7 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

The use of “aren’t” does not seem right, given that the declarative version is “I am the right person,” but what could be used in its place? You can of course say, “Am I not the right person?”, but that sounds awkward. Switching to past or future tense is no problem – “Wasn’t I the right person” and “Won’t I be the right person?”

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Smashley's avatar

Am I.
Flip it around. You wouldn’t say “I are the right person”

Jeruba's avatar

It’s an awkward construction for which we have no good solution. I remember reading that strictly speaking, “Ain’t I” would be the correct construction.

There’s really nothing awkward about “Am I not…”; it just sounds a little formal in this too-too-casual age, and sound often misleads grammar.

As a career editor and staunch friend of grammatical correctness, I say, When in doubt, dodge it. In the present case and under ordinary circumstances, I would probably dodge it with “Am I the wrong person?”.

Demosthenes's avatar

“Aren’t I” is generally accepted, but it is considered informal. And “am I not” is a bit formal, so there really is no option at the “intermediate” level of formality. However, I encounter “aren’t I” in enough situations of mixed formality that I consider it to be near-standard (more so than say, “gonna”).

“ain’t” originated as “am not”, but it quickly came to be used as a substitute for “aren’t” in Cockney English, thus it was fated for banishment from standard English. Apparently in some dialects of Irish and Scottish English, you will find “amn’t”.

chefl's avatar

I never heard “Are I the…” so why ” Aren’t I the….” is the usage I can’t understand. Of course “Am I not ..” is correct.

Demosthenes's avatar

“Aren’t” in this context isn’t derived from “are I not”, though; it’s standing in for a non-existent contraction of “am not”. (In fact, it actually seems that this usage of “aren’t” replaced an earlier “an’t”).

chefl's avatar

But why would there be “Aren’t I” if there is no “Are I not”?

Jeruba's avatar

Other workarounds: “How am I not the right person?” and (“what” questions usually being much better than “why” questions) “What makes me not the right person?”

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